Legend has it that two strangers climbed Rocky Top in search of a moonshine still.
That’s how Tennessee’s fabled, unofficial fight song tells it, anyway.
But on Saturdays in the past, alcohol of any kind — especially moonshine — could not be found in Neyland Stadium, at least not in the open. However, that might change this fall.
During the annual SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida, the league voted Friday to lift the long-standing alcohol sales ban at athletic events across the conference, opening the door for schools to add a new revenue stream.
The policy is set to go into effect on Aug. 1, less than a month before the Vols’ season opener against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium.
“Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our universities in recent years,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a press release. “As a conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools, which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas.”
While schools have the right to not enact the new policy, UT supported the vote and is exploring the possibility of selling alcohol at sporting events this upcoming season.
“The SEC has voted to allow alcohol sales at athletic events, with certain conditions, should a university choose to do so,” the Office of the Chancellor told the Daily Beacon. “UT supports the vote. (We) are evaluating the best course of action for procedures and processes to determine if and when we would initiate the sale of alcoholic beverages at athletic events.”
Although three institutions voted against lifting the ban, the Chancellor’s office did not indicate whether or not Tennessee was one of those schools.
As for the rest of the conference, no other school has indicated yet if they will lift the ban was sporting events in 2019-20.
Should Tennessee choose to take advantage of the policy, the rule states that purchases of alcoholic beverages will end at the close of the third quarter of football games, the 12-minute mark of the second half for men’s basketball, the third quarter for women’s basketball, after the top of the 7th inning in baseball and the end of the top of the fifth in softball.
According to the press release, the SEC will review the policy each year to make sure that school’s are complying, as well as the fan conduct during games where alcohol is served.
“We are committed as a conference to ensuring that all changes in policy are implemented in ways that respect and sustain the traditions that make the SEC gameday experience exceptional for all attendees,” Sankey said.
The Daily Beacon will continue to follow this story as more decisions are made regarding Tennessee's course of action.